When I was a kid, say, under thirty-five (one day, if you’re lucky, you’ll know what I’m talking about) I worked as a staff photographer on several newspapers around the country. Several of the photographers I worked with are still among my very best friends.
Each of us had a unique approach to shooting photographs and we learned so much from each other. But we were seriously competitive and on some immature, selfish level we took satisfaction in watching each other fail. When a great friend won a big award a little piece of me died inside; “that should have been mine” the voice would say. Obviously, I’m not proud of this, but as I said, I was a kid and I behaved like one.
Somewhere along the way there was a shift; actually it was more than a shift—I’ve done a one-eighty. Is it just because I’m older and maybe a tad wiser that now I love to watch other photographers do great work? I’m thrilled to watch any photographer on any level succeed. I’m happy for the happiness a great magazine cover must bring the photographer with the byline. But that’s professional photographer stuff and not what made me think of this.
It was the pictures you’ve been shooting and posting on Facebook that brought me here today—and not just the “good” ones from the regulars. I can still relate to the thrill I know a first-time poster feels when someone out there in the inter-world pats them on the back and says they LIKE it.
Some of the more meaningful support I ever received came when I was just starting out. I’ll never forget my high school English teacher telling me he thought my portrait of the student counsil president was one of the nicest photographs he’d ever seen taken by student; I made her peak through an opening in some bushes. The way I took pictures was actually changed by his kindness; I proceeded with more confidence.
We’re getting close to the two-hundredth episode of the Radio Picture Show. (Exactly which episode is the 200th will be lost to history. Sloppy labeling and filing by your’s truly has left the organization of some of the earlier shows in disarray. Hey, I’m a photographer, not a library scientist.) But regardless, that’s quite a lot of holding up other people’s photographs for the world to see. When I came up with the idea for the show I knew it was a good one, but I had no idea how personally enriching it would be to dole out encouragement three times a week.
I don’t think anyone out there who’s had a picture in the show has received more benefit than I have than from someone telling me I made their day. All I did was point to their picture and say “great job” in front of a crowd of accomplished and incredibly supportive photographers. That’s a big deal to me now; I’m just on the other end of the compliment.